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The Yankees and Hideki Matsui have been in contact

Jan 16, 2012, 6:55 PM EDT

Hideki Matsui Reuters

We heard earlier today that the Yankees are only willing to spend about $1-2 million on a designated hitter. This would seem to rule out Carlos Pena and possibly Johnny Damon, unless they are willing to take severe pay cuts.

The Yanks will likely shuffle their aging veterans in and out of the DH spot all season, so there’s an argument to be made that they don’t need to sign anyone, but with so many veteran hitters still available in free agency and so few opportunities left, one will likely fall into their laps at a bargain rate.

With that in mind, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that there has been “some contact” between the Yankees and Hideki Matsui about a possible reunion.

Matsui, who turns 38 in June, batted .251/.321/.375 with 12 home runs, 72 RBI and a .696 OPS with the Athletics last season. It was easily the worst season of his nine-year major-league career, but hitting in the pitcher-friendly Coliseum surely didn’t help matters (.663 OPS at home compared to a .729 OPS on the road) and he had an .820 OPS with the Angels in 2010.

Setting aside the obvious sentimentality, Matsui might not be the worst fit at DH if the price is right. While he struggled against right-handed pitching last season, he has an .840 OPS against them during his career. And we all know Andruw Jones is quite capable of mashing left-handed pitching.

  1. Charles Gates - Jan 16, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    Also, massive ear lobes.

  2. bigharold - Jan 16, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Matsui wouldn’t be a bad choice, .. as long as he can hit RHP still.

    Matsui starts slow but he should do OK hitting in Yankee stadium and the Man is clutch.

  3. yankeesgameday - Jan 16, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    This does not bother me.

  4. 78mu - Jan 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    Pena would be a better choice but his price seems to be too high for the Yankees.

    Never thought I’d ever type that sentence.

  5. toddp12 - Jan 16, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Yanks shouldn’t have let Johnny and Matsui go at the end of 2009. Now they are talking to both about either or returing. Screw that. Sign Chavez for Righties and to give Alex a day off in the field and have Jones hit against Lefties. Chavez will sign for 2 mil and under unless he retires….

    • Ari Collins - Jan 16, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      Not only has neither been particularly good since leaving NY, but they wouldn’t have had room for Granderson and/or Gardner if they’d kept both. The Yankees let them go at exactly the right time.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jan 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        The problem was they tried to replace him with the fragile Nick Johnson, who not only had a problem staying healthy, but also was the one man on the field who was probably slower than Jorge Posada.

    • bozosforall - Jan 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      I’d love to see Matsui back in pinstripes but toddp12’s suggestion of signing Chavez is a much more logical solution, as he adds defense as well as power (Matsui’s knees won’t allow him to do much as far as defense is concerned). I do believe that Matsui can help a ballclub at the DH spot this year though.

  6. randygnyc - Jan 16, 2012 at 10:35 PM

    Spot on ari. I’d take a look at matsui or the slightly more expensive Carlos lee, but only at one year deals. I’d prefer, though, to get Fielder to DH for 3 years. This can still bring us under our $189 million in 14 by getting AJ out of town, not resigning Kuroda (replace with either betances or banuellous) and slough off switzers contract at the end of the year.

  7. humanexcrement - Jan 16, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    Honesty, as a part-time DH, Matsui may have one more good year left in him. It’s not a guarantee by any means, but it’s possible he could hit well in Yankee Stadium after coming out of Oakland. If nothing else, despite his deterioration from injuries, he looks like he’s in pretty good shape. I see no reason why he couldn’t hit 15-20 home runs in a part-time role. Not a bad idea, though Carlos Pena is probably a better one, although Pena will probably get an offer to start at 1B somewhere else.

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